6/1/15

From Mark Copeland... "DISCIPLINES FOR THE DISCIPLE" The Discipline Of Fasting





                     "DISCIPLINES FOR THE DISCIPLE"

                       The Discipline Of Fasting

INTRODUCTION

1. For this series we have defined spiritual disciplines as...
   a. Spiritual exercises that bring one closer to God, to become more
      godly in character and behavior
   b. Spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, fasting, singing,
      giving, etc.

2. Previous studies examined the disciplines of...
   a. Prayer - especially the value of secret, simple, and steadfast
      prayer
   b. Meditation - contemplating on God, His works, His words, and
      things worthy of virtue

3. A discipline closely tied to prayer in the Scriptures is that of
   fasting...
   a. Practiced by men of God - Ezr 8:21; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:3; Mt 4:2
   b. Observed by the early church - Ac 13:1-3; 14:23; 2Co 6:5; 11:27

4. But some questions may come to mind...
   a. What exactly is fasting?
   b. Why would Christians fast?
   c. When would Christians fast?
   d. How should Christians fast?

[A detailed study of fasting can be found here.  This study will simply summarize
the answers to such questions...]

I. FASTING IN THE BIBLE

   A. IN THE OLD TESAMENT...
      1. Only one fast was commanded in the Law of Moses - Lev 16:29;
         23:27-29; Num 29:7
         a. The phrase "afflict your soul" refers to fasting - cf. Psa 69:10
         b. Note also Ac 27:9 (where the Fast refers to the Day of
            Atonement)
      2. But the Israelites (and others) fasted on many other occasions
         a. In war, or at the threat of it - Judg 20:26; 1Sa 7:6
         b. When loved ones were sick - 2Sa 12:16-23; Ps 35:11-13
         c. When loved ones died - 1Sa 31:13; 1Ch 10:12; 2Sa 1:12
         d. When they sought God's forgiveness - Jon 3:4-10; Dan 9:3-5;
            Neh 9:1-3
         e. When faced with impending danger - 2Ch 20:3; Ezr 8:21; Neh1:4; Es 4:3,16
         f. To commemorate certain calamities - cf. Zec 7:3; 8:19
      3. The purpose of fasting
         a. Some fasting was a natural reaction to grief over the loss
            of a loved one
         b. More often, fasting was done purposely to "afflict the soul"
            - Lev 23:27-29
         c. The purpose was to "humble" or "chasten" the soul - Psa35:13; 69:10
         d. By so humbling themselves, they hoped to incur God's favor
            - Ezr 8:21-23; cf. Isa 57:15; 66:1-2
         e. Because they sought God's favor, fasting usually was
            accompanied with prayer
      4. The nature of fasting
         a. Fasting generally involved abstaining from food but not
            water
         b. Sometimes the fast was partial - a restriction of diet, not
            total abstention - cf. Dan 10:2-3
         c. On rare occasions there was the absolute fast - Jon 3:5-10;
            Es 4:16; cf. Ac 9:9
         d. The absolute fasts of Moses and Elijah must have been
            miraculous - Deut 9:9; 1Ki 19:8
      5. The length of fasting
         a. A fast was often for one day, from sunrise to sunset, and
            after sundown food would be taken - Judg 20:26; 2Sa 1:12;
            3:35
         b. A fast might be for one night (hence the term, "breakfast")
            - Dan 6:18
         c. The fast of Esther continued for three days, day and night,
            which seems to have been a special case - Es 4:16
         d. At Saul's burial, the fast by Jabesh-Gilead was seven days
            - 1Sa 31:13; 1Ch 10:12
         e. David fasted seven days when his child was ill - 2Sa 12:
            16-18
         f. The longest fasts were the forty day fasts by Moses, Elijah,
            and Jesus - Exo 34:28; Deut 9:9; 1Ki 19:8; Mt 4:2; Lk 4:2
      6. Warnings regarding fasting
         a. Fasting can easily turn into an external show and ceremonial
            ritualism
         b. When it did, God and His prophets spoke out against it - Isa58:1-9; Zec 7:1-14
      -- Though subject to abuse, fasting played an important role in
         the life of Israel

   B. FASTING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
      1. In the life of Jesus
         a. He fasted forty days in the wilderness - Mt 4:1-2; Lk 4:1-2
         b. He taught concerning fasting in His sermon on the mount 
            - Mt 6:16-18
         c. He implied His disciples would fast after His death - Mk 2:
            18-20; Lk 5:33-35
         d. He spoke of the combined power of fasting and prayer 
            - Mt 17:14-21
      2. In the life of the early church
         a. Members of the church at Antioch served the Lord with
            fasting - Ac 13:1-2
         b. Elders were appointed in the churches of Galatia with
            fasting - Ac 14:21-23
      3. In the life of Paul
         a. He fasted prior to his baptism - Ac 9:9
         b. He fasted as part of his ministry - 2Co 6:4-10; 11:23-28
         c. He described how fasting might be appropriate for others
            - 1Co 7:5
      4. In the lives of others
         a. Anna - Lk 2:36-37
         b. Cornelius - Ac 10:30-31
      -- Through both precept and example, the New Testament has much to
         say about fasting

[Both Jews and Gentiles, Christians and non-Christians, practiced the
spiritual discipline of fasting in Bible times.  Should Christians fast
today?  I believe there is a place for fasting today...]

II. WHY WOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?

   A. PEOPLE FAST TODAY FOR VARIOUS REASONS...
      1. Some purposefully, for health reasons
      2. Some without thinking, in times of grief and sorrow
      3. Others, in an effort to gain some kind of self-control
      -- But these are not reasons Christian should fast in their
         service to God - Col 2:20-23

   B. CHRISTIANS SHOULD FAST TO SEEK GOD'S HELP...
      1. This is consistent with the majority of fasting in the OT
         a. In times of war or at the threat of it (Israel)
         b. When loved ones were sick (David)
         c. When seeking God's forgiveness (Ahab, Daniel)
         d. When seeking God's protection (Ezra)
      2. This is consistent with the examples of fasting in the NT
         a. When dealing with temptations (Jesus)
         b. When serving the Lord (Antioch)
         c. When beginning a work for the Lord (Antioch)
         d. When selecting and appointing elders (Galatia)
      -- There is certainly apostolic example for Christians to fast
         today

[If fasting has a place in the Christian life, then let's look more
closely at...]

III. WHEN WOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?

   A. WHENEVER CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE GOD'S HELP...
      1. These may be occasions on an individual level
         a. When faced with difficult temptations
         b. When faced with the serious illness of a loved one
      2. These occasions might be on a congregational level
         a. As when appointing elders
         b. As when sending out missionaries
      -- Not as some ceremonious ritual, but when appropriate for the
         occasion

   B. WHENEVER CIRCUMSTANCES CALL FOR MUCH PRAYER...
      1. Is not God more likely to answer our  prayers if we are
         persistent? - cf. Lk 18:1-8
      2. Is not God more likely to respond if we fast in the proper
         manner? - cf. Mt 6:17-18
      -- This may be why fasting is frequently joined with prayer in the
         Scriptures

[Whenever there are matters requiring much prayer, fasting along with
prayer is appropriate.  Finally, let's take a look at...]

IV. HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?

   A. SOME BIBLICAL WARNINGS...
      1. Not to be seen of men - Mt 6:16-18
      2. Not as some regular ritual - cf. Mt 9:14-17
      3. Not without true repentance - cf. Isa 58:3-9
      -- To be effective, fasting must take such warnings seriously

   B. SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS...
      1. Don't fast just because it sounds like a neat thing to do
         a. Take the subject seriously
         b. Fast only when the occasion is a serious one
         c. One in which you deeply desire God's help
      2. If you have never fasted before...
         a. Start slow, fasting only for brief periods of time
         b. End slow, gradually breaking your fast with fresh fruits and
            vegetables in small amounts
      3. Fast when you have time to spend in prayerful meditation
         a. Remember the purpose for fasting
            1) To humble oneself in God's sight
            2) To seek favorable answer to prayer for some important plea
         b. Thus fast when you have time
            1) To pray
            2) To meditate
         c. Remember fasting can be:
            1) Partial abstention from food, not necessarily complete
            2) Just for one day or night, not necessarily for days and
               nights
      -- Fasting is not an end, but a means to an end; a way to humble
         oneself before God

CONCLUSION

1. Views about fasting have often been extreme...
   a. "Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and
      reason, and others have utterly disregarded it." - John Wesley
   b. Some consider fasting unnecessary, therefore to be ignored; others
      think fasting is to be bound as a matter of faith (like baptism)
   c. For the Christian, fasting is left primarily to individual
      discretion

2. When properly understood, fasting can be a valuable spiritual discipline...
   a. A way to humble oneself before God
   b. When joined with prayer, a way to solicit God's help

As we seek to exercise ourselves unto godliness (2Ti 4:7), consider the
practice of fasting as an appropriate complement to prayer and
meditation...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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You Have Only One Shot by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=497


You Have Only One Shot

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The present pluralistic climate that prevails in American culture has disastrous implications. To suggest that all religions, all ideologies, all philosophies, and all beliefs are of equal validity, and ought to be tolerated as such, is to generate social anarchy and the destabilization of society that can end only in national suicide. Unless a single value system remains substantially intact in any given civilization, that society will lack the necessary “glue” to hold together. But even more tragic are the eternal implications for those who reject the truth regarding the only moral and spiritual reality, i.e., the Christian system.
For example, take the notion of reincarnation, a belief that permeates Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age philosophy, and thus characterizes the thinking of upwards of two billion people (for brief discussions of reincarnation, see Valea, 2006; “Recarnation,” 2007). Here is a sinister doctrine that robs those masses of their one and only opportunity to prepare for afterlife. Reincarnation is the idea that at death, all human souls (according to some, animals as well) simply “recycle” into another body on Earth, and that this rebirth process is repeated over and over again until the individual eventually reaches the ultimate spiritual condition—nirvana and enlightenment.
Such a viewpoint inevitably must bring a sense of false comfort to the individual who embraces it. He or she naturally is not overly concerned with moral behavior and life choices. After all, multiple opportunities to live life over again are forthcoming. Herein lays the tragedy. The fact of the matter is that a human being has but “one shot” at life (Miller, 2003). Every person lives but one life on Earth and then must face death and Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). At death, a person’s spirit enters the Hadean realm to await the final Judgment and is unable to return to Earth (read Luke 16:19-31; cf.Miller, 2005). Consequently, it is absolutely imperative for every human being to examine God’s Word (the Bible) to ascertain how life is to be lived in view of eternity (cf. Butt, 2003). Millions of people literally are squandering their one and only opportunity to prepare themselves to secure everlasting happiness, and so will be consigned instead to everlasting torment (Matthew 25:31-46). Any doctrine that softens a person’s will to be conscientious regarding morality and behavior is a sinister doctrine that ought to be exposed and repudiated (Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 4:1).
[NOTE: For an audio sermon on what happens when we die, click here.]

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Reincarnation and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2298.
Miller, Dave (2003), “One Second After Death,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2244.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Afterlife and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2672.
Valea, Ernest (2006), “Reincarnation: Its Meaning and Consequences,” [On-line], URL:http://www.comparativereligion.com/reincarnation.html.
“Reincarnation” (2007), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation.


Does God Tempt People? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=2679

Does God Tempt People?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In his February 12, 2009 debate with Kyle Butt, Dan Barker alleged that he “knows” the God of the Bible cannot exist because “there are mutually incompatible properties/characteristics of the God that’s in this book [the Bible—EL] that rule out the possibility of His existence.” Seven minutes and 54 seconds into his first speech, Barker cited James 1:13 and Genesis 22:1 as proof that the God of the Bible cannot exist. Since James 1:13 says: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (KJV), and Genesis 22:1 affirms that “God did tempt Abraham” (KJV) to sacrifice his son, Barker asserted that God is like a married bachelor or a square circle—He cannot logically exist.
If Genesis 22:1 actually taught that God really tempted Abraham to commit evil and sin, then the God of the Bible might be a “square circle,” i.e., a logical contradiction. But, the fact of the matter is, God did not tempt Abraham to commit evil. Barker formulated his argument based upon the King James Version and only one meaning of the Hebrew word (nissâ) found in Genesis 22:1. Although the word can mean “to tempt,” the first two meanings that Brown, Driver, and Briggs give for nissâ in theirHebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament is “to test, to try” (1993). Likewise, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (1997) defines the word simply “to test” (Jenni and Westermann, 1997, 2:741-742). The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament agrees that nissâ is best translated, whether in secular or theological contexts, as “testing” (Botterweck, et al., 1998, 9:443-455). For this reason, virtually all major translations in recent times, including the NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, and RSV, translate Genesis 22:1 using the term “tested,” not tempted.
When David put on the armor of King Saul prior to battling Goliath, the shepherd realized: “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested (nissâ) them” (1 Samuel 17:39, emp. added). Obviously, this testing had nothing to do with David “tempting” his armor; he simply had not tested or tried on Saul’s armor previously. God led Israel during 40 years of desert wanderings “to humble...and test” them (Deuteronomy 8:2, emp. added), not to tempt them to sin. Notice also the contrast in Exodus 20:20 between (1) God testing man and (2) trying to cause man to sin. After giving Israel the Ten Commandments, Moses said: “Do not fear; for God has come to test (nissâyou, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20, emp. added). If one were to use Barker’s reasoning that nissâ must mean “to tempt,” regardless of the context, then he would have to interpret Exodus 20:20 to mean that God tempted Israel to sin, so that they will not sin.
When a person interprets the Bible, or any other book, without recognizing that words have a variety of meanings and can be used in various senses, a rational interpretation is impossible. Many alleged Bible contradictions, including several of those that Dan Barker mentioned in the Butt/Barker Debate, are easily explained simply by acknowledging that words are used in a variety of ways. Is a word to be taken literally or figuratively? Must the term in one place mean the exact same thing when in another context, or may it have different meanings? If English-speaking Americans can intelligibly converse about running to the store in the 21st century by driving a car, or if we can easily communicate aboutparking on driveways, and driving on parkways, why do some people have such a difficult time understanding the various ways in which words were used in Bible times? Could it be that some Bible critics like Barker are simply predisposed to interpret Scripture unfairly? The evidence reveals that is exactly what is happening.
Rather then contradicting James 1:13, Genesis 22:1 actually corresponds perfectly with what James wrote near the beginning of his epistle: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work,that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (1:2-4, emp. added). By instructing Abraham to sacrifice his promised son (cf. Hebrews 11:17), God gave Abraham another opportunity to prove his loyalty to Him, while Abraham simultaneously used this trial to continue developing a more complete, mature faith.

REFERENCES

Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry (1998), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles B. Briggs (1993), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Jenni, Ernst and Claus Westerman (1997), Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Blind, Biased Failure to See God by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3754

Blind, Biased Failure to See God

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The flagellum that propels bacteria has long been recognized as a marvel of engineering. Scientists know that this rotating wonder, and the assembly to which it is attached, is a tiny but powerful molecular engine. One of nature’s smallest, and yet most powerful, motors rotates at over 200 revolutions per second, driven by incredible torque. Researchers have also long been puzzled by what enables the flagellum to come to a stop, and even reverse its rotation. In recent years they have discovered that it does so using a “clutch.” The bacterium can disconnect from the flagellum by releasing a protein that disengages the clutch (“‘Clutch’ Stops...,” 2008).

In the presence of such sophistication and intelligent design, one would think that researchers would recognize divine design when they see it. Sadly, however, the massive propaganda campaign that has inundated the science departments of American schools for a half century has blinded its victims to glaring evidence. Consider the lead researcher’s analysis of the clutch discovery: “We think it’s pretty cool that evolving bacteria and human engineers arrived at a similar solution to the same problem” (“‘Clutch’ Stops...”). Really? Nonsentient, uncoordinated, chance forces of nature somehow designed and created a technologically advanced device long before sentient, intelligent human engineers designed their own version? The same researcher also observed:
“This makes a lot of sense as far as the cell is concerned.... The flagellum is a giant, very expensive structure. Often when a cell no longer needs something, it might destroy it and recycle the parts. But here, because the flagellum is so big and complex, doing that is not very cost-effective. We think the clutch prevents the flagellum from rotating when constrained by the sticky matrix of the biofilm” (“‘Clutch’ Stops...”).
Wait a minute. “Makes a lot of sense”? “Very expensive”? “Big and complex”? The verbal gymnastics that evolutionists engage in would be humorous if not so sadly serious. These are terms that demand intelligence and sentience. The evolutionists constantly allow themselves the luxury of speaking as if the myriad organisms that display incredible design and purpose somehow created themselves and then consciously tweaked themselves over millions of years to become more efficient. They regularly cut themselves slack by speaking as if a mind—a conscious, intelligent being—were orchestrating the endless stream of biological marvels that grace the planet.

So blinded by irrational commitment to an outlandish theory, evolutionists are unable to hear the evidence screaming in their ears and flashing before their eyes, and come to the only logical conclusion: such intricate, complex design demands an intelligent, superior Designer. To deny it is bias of the first order.

“Thus says the LORD.... ‘I am the LORD, who makes all things…Who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness” (Isaiah 44:24-25).

REFERENCE


“‘Clutch’ Stops Flagella” (2008), Photonics Media, June 23, http://www.photonics.com/Article.aspx?AID=34236.

Affecting the "Next Generation Science Standards" for the Lord by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1614

Affecting the "Next Generation Science Standards" for the Lord

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Perhaps you, like many others, have thought, “The nation’s school system is rapidly digressing. The faith of this nation’s children is being demolished by the teaching of Darwinian evolution in science. Immorality is being encouraged by teaching young people that their ancestors were ape-like creatures, and that they are, therefore, merely a less-hairy ape, controlled wholly by instinct and genetics, with no propensity for self-control. And yet, there’s nothing I can do! The establishment is too big to fight. I’m insignificant. I wouldn’t even know where to start to fight this!” It so happens that with the help of thousands of others like you, you can, in fact, have a major impact in this debate—right now. You can play a significant role in shaping the science curriculum that will be taught throughout the majority of these United States for the next several years.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is currently developing the science standard for some 26 states. Now is the time to take action and speak out against the indoctrination of young minds with the bad science of evolutionary theory. If the science standards pass as they are written now, Darwinian evolution will be a required topic in your child’s science education if you live in one of the states that adopts this standard. The NGSS is currently accepting input from the public over the next few days (until June 1) on their proposed science standards in the form of a survey on their Web site (www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards). We strongly recommend that you take five minutes and speak out for God and the biblical view of origins. Now may be the only time for many years (or ever) to let your voice be heard in an effective way on this matter.
The Villa Rica church of Christ in Georgia is taking a lead in this effort, and have developed a Web site to help you in this process. If you need help getting straight to the critical issues in the science standard, click here (http://www.unity-in-christ.org/Articles/christians4science_is_an_apologe.html). At the top of that Web page are two red rectangle links that will be helpful to you in sifting through the information on the NGSS Web site.
Please let your voice be heard. There is absolutely no doubt that the promulgation of evolutionary theory in America’s school system is one of the most effective ways that Satan has “taken advantage of us” (2 Corinthians 2:11) over the last 50 years, turning Americans and the world away from the God of the Bible. But we are not “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Remember the famous words of exhortation credited to Edmund Burke, a British statesman from the 1700s: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Take up the sword of truth, and fight with us.


Animals, Abortion, and the Absurd by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1241

Animals, Abortion, and the Absurd

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

I have always loved dogs. I am thankful that God chose to create the dog kind. In my 33 years I have owned nine different dogs and have fond memories of them all. My dogs kept me company when I was alone. They calmed me when I was stressed. They picked me up when I was down. Even as a happily married husband and father of three, I still enjoy walking into the back yard to greet the family mutts—Bear and Suzy.
In August 2007, many people, including myself, were disappointed to learn that a well-known professional football player (Michael Vick) plead guilty to sponsoring, financing, and participating in the brutal sport of dog fighting. Vick even admitted that he was partly responsible for hanging and drowning a number of dogs that did not perform well in certain “test” fights (see United States v. Michael Vick, 2007). For his crimes, Vick was sentenced to 23 months behind bars, most of which were served in a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.
I certainly believe that Vick’s actions (i.e., the drowning of dogs, etc.) can be described as appalling and somewhat sadistic. What’s more, he knowingly participated in a sport which has been outlawed in every state in America. He deserved some kind of punishment for his actions. But, we must recognize that Vick’s acts were done against animals. Though dogs may be “man’s best friend,” they still are just animals, not humans. They are every bit as much an animal as cows, crows, chickens, deer, monkeys, horses, and pigs are animals.
How absurd, inconsistent, and immoral is the United States judicial system when a person must serve nearly two years in prison for fighting, hanging, and drowning animals, yet, if that same person slaughters a 20-week-old unborn human, he supposedly is blameless. The fact that doctors in the United States can legally rip unborn babies to pieces with plier-like forceps, chop them up with knife-like devices, or puncture their skulls with a pair of scissors before sucking out the babies’ brains, is atrocious (cf. Proverbs 6:16-17). Are we to believe that Vick’s actions against dogs were “inhumane,” but what happens to approximately one million innocent, unborn babies every year in America is not? What could be more inhumane than willfully, selfishly, arrogantly, and brutally taking the life of ahuman—one of God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6)? Baby murderers freely walk the streets of America everyday, but dog fighters are jailed for inhumane acts...against animals? How absurd! How atrocious!
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 5:20-24).
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

REFERENCE

United States v. Michael Vick (2007), 3:07CR274, [On-line], URL:http://sports.espn.go.com/photo/2007/0824/vicksummary.pdf.


From Jim McGuiggan... Wheat and Weeds

Wheat and Weeds

 A reader asked about the purpose of the parable of the tares. I think we should keep several texts in mind when thinking about this. There are Matthew 15:13, Luke 2:34, Deuteronomy 18:15-18 with Acts 3:22-23, Matthew 3:9-10,12. I would suggest that Matthew 8:11-12 also helps us here, specifically in mentioning the casting out of the Jewish sons of the kingdom who reject the kingdom authority of the Christ—authority that has just been acknowledged by the Gentile centurion.
I think the tares are Jewish non-believers, that is, those that reject Jesus Christ. I think the sons of the kingdom are Jewish believers and that the end of the age has reference to the public manifestation of God’s judgement on Jewish people in AD 70 who rejected the New Covenant as it was given in Jesus Christ.
I think Acts 21:17-26 is a clear illustration of how the apostles understood their Master’s teaching in a place such as Matthew 13:28-29.
The parable would certainly function to keep over-eager Messianic Jews from openly working to create two Jewish nations (so to speak).
While it would certainly be true that there was a new temple, new covenant, new High Priest and new sacrificial system from the exaltation of Christ onward, to do violence to the Jewish heritage and the truths that abide would have been tragic. It would have been needlessly violent and offensive. Thousands of Jews that gladly received Jesus as the promised Messiah remained Jews and loved their heritage (Acts 21:17-26). To destroy all that was honourable in and around the Judaic system because masses of Jews had and were rejecting the Messiah would have hurt Messianic Jews also. Paul was reputed as an enemy of the Jews and James urges him to put that lie to rest and Paul was eager to do it even though he recognized impenitent Jews for what they were.
Nothing in the parable suggests that the tares were hard to recognise!
In fact, the parable makes no sense if the tares are difficult to spot.
It’s precisely because the servants recognised them that they wanted to uproot them.
The owner is not afraid that they might uproot wheat by mistake. No, he fears that in uprooting the tares, which they easily recognize, that they might also uproot wheat.
It was a question of timing and not a question of recognition. The parables of the wheat and the weeds makes use of the truth that both the weeds and the wheat shared the same soil and that their roots wrapped round one another. Over-eagerness and insensitivity are the dangers warned against in this parable.
The field is not the church—we’re told it is the world.
I think we miss the point when we try to reconcile this parable with "church discipline".
The parable forbids uprooting and some texts under some circumstances insist on uprooting as a matter of church discipline. I would suggest that two different agendas are in view.
The forbidding in Matthew 13:28-29 and the opposite instruction in 1 Corinthians 5:13 point to two different situations and agendas.
The weeds are recognized as and declared to be "sons of the evil one" and yet the servants are instructed to "let them grow together" until the judgment by God. If we move this to the church fellowship domain then we would have known and declared sons of the evil one in the church fellowship and a command that forbids us to disfellowship them.
It doesn’t help to say it isn’t always possible to tell "weeds" from "wheat" in the church, which may be true but it is irrelevant, because it ignores what the parable expressly says. In the parable there is no difficulty in telling the difference between weeds and wheat. In fact, the difference is clearly seen and announced. That’s what makes the forbidding remarkable because the servants not only recognized the weeds for what they were and were more than prepared to uproot them.
It’s better, I think, to understand it otherwise. I think Matthew includes his Master’s parable for the Christians for whom he is writing. I think his readers are mainly Jewish and there might easily have been questions about how they were to relate to fellow-Jews and the temple. This is not at all difficult to imagine; but it doesn’t make much difference if we can figure out exactly what Matthew wanted to achieve by recording the parable. I think that when Christ originally told the story that he was making the point that not all Jews were Jews and that not all Israelites were Israel [See Romans 9:6 and John 8:37, 39 and Revelation 2:9 and 3:9]. Luke 2:34 says Jesus was set for the rise and fall of many in Israel. I think God’s judgment on Jerusalem in AD70 was a public declaration that everything was under new management and that "Israel" must have faith in the Messiah or be cut off from God's people (see Acts 3:22-23).
At a practical level maybe the parable can help us recognize that we can’t fix everything!
There are some things that only the direct action of God can take care of and there are some issues that outrun our little stash of wisdom. When they grabbed their hoes, ready to head to the field, I imagine Jesus saying, "Whoa, there’s more here than meets the eye. This job’s too big for you." We’re not always able to tell which job is which. But I’m sure it won’t hurt us to admit our limitations and be slow to act when the situation is profound and acting has profound consequences. Humility and prayer won’t hurt, will they?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

From Gary.... Bible Reading June 1



Bible Reading   

June 1

The World English Bible


June 1
Judges 21

Jdg 21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter to Benjamin as wife.
Jdg 21:2 The people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore.
Jdg 21:3 They said, Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?
Jdg 21:4 It happened on the next day that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
Jdg 21:5 The children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn't come up in the assembly to Yahweh? For they had made a great oath concerning him who didn't come up to Yahweh to Mizpah, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
Jdg 21:6 The children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
Jdg 21:7 How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
Jdg 21:8 They said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel who didn't come up to Yahweh to Mizpah? Behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly.
Jdg 21:9 For when the people were numbered, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead there.
Jdg 21:10 The congregation sent there twelve thousand men of the most valiant, and commanded them, saying, Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones.
Jdg 21:11 This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has lain by man.
Jdg 21:12 They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins, who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Jdg 21:13 The whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them.
Jdg 21:14 Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead: and yet so they weren't enough for them.
Jdg 21:15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because that Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
Jdg 21:16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
Jdg 21:17 They said, There must be an inheritance for those who are escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel.
Jdg 21:18 However we may not give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel had sworn, saying, Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.
Jdg 21:19 They said, Behold, there is a feast of Yahweh from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
Jdg 21:20 They commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards,
Jdg 21:21 and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and each man catch his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
Jdg 21:22 It shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, Grant them graciously to us, because we didn't take for each man his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.
Jdg 21:23 The children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of those who danced, whom they carried off: and they went and returned to their inheritance, and built the cities, and lived in them.
Jdg 21:24 The children of Israel departed there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.

Jdg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Jun. 1, 2
John 9

Joh 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.
Joh 9:2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Joh 9:3 Jesus answered, "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.
Joh 9:4 I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work.
Joh 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Joh 9:6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man's eyes with the mud,
Joh 9:7 and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means "Sent"). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing.
Joh 9:8 The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, "Isn't this he who sat and begged?"
Joh 9:9 Others were saying, "It is he." Still others were saying, "He looks like him." He said, "I am he."
Joh 9:10 They therefore were asking him, "How were your eyes opened?"
Joh 9:11 He answered, "A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.' So I went away and washed, and I received sight."
Joh 9:12 Then they asked him, "Where is he?" He said, "I don't know."
Joh 9:13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees.
Joh 9:14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
Joh 9:15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see."
Joh 9:16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he doesn't keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was division among them.
Joh 9:17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, "What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
Joh 9:18 The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight,
Joh 9:19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?"
Joh 9:20 His parents answered them, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
Joh 9:21 but how he now sees, we don't know; or who opened his eyes, we don't know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself."
Joh 9:22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.
Joh 9:23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age. Ask him."
Joh 9:24 So they called the man who was blind a second time, and said to him, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner."
Joh 9:25 He therefore answered, "I don't know if he is a sinner. One thing I do know: that though I was blind, now I see."
Joh 9:26 They said to him again, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
Joh 9:27 He answered them, "I told you already, and you didn't listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don't also want to become his disciples, do you?"
Joh 9:28 They insulted him and said, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
Joh 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. But as for this man, we don't know where he comes from."
Joh 9:30 The man answered them, "How amazing! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.
Joh 9:31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshipper of God, and does his will, he listens to him.
Joh 9:32 Since the world began it has never been heard of that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind.
Joh 9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
Joh 9:34 They answered him, "You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?" They threw him out.
Joh 9:35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and finding him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?"
Joh 9:36 He answered, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?"
Joh 9:37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen him, and it is he who speaks with you."
Joh 9:38 He said, "Lord, I believe!" and he worshiped him.
Joh 9:39 Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, that those who don't see may see; and that those who see may become blind."
Joh 9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, "Are we also blind?"
Joh 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.